Sunday morning music


This morning I’d like to explore one song, and how it’s been used to express different emotions and stir up feelings in other entertainment genres.

Leonard Cohen rose to prominence in the 1960’s.  He wrote poetry, some allegedly under the influence of stimulants, and set it to music, which sometimes led to lyrics that were hard to put into perspective in the context of his life.  Some have been discussed and debated for decades without resolution.  One such song was “Avalanche”, from his third album “Songs of Love and Hate“, released in 1971.  I’ve always liked it for its quasi-religious imagery.

Cohen’s song became the springboard for various different interpretations.  The first to come to prominence was by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, an Australian rock band.  Their version, from their debut 1984 album “From Her to Eternity“, was more gritty and raw than Cohen’s, less reflective, more aggressive.

Nick Cave returned to the song almost 30 years later for the soundtrack of the TV series “Black Sails“, a four-season prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel “Treasure Island“.  He re-recorded it in a more reflective, sorrowful, lyrical mood for the closing credits of Season 2, Episode 9, where the character Miranda is killed.  The song expresses Captain Flint’s mourning for her.  (A sequence of photographs linking photographs of them from the series to the lyrics of the song may be found here.)  I much prefer this version of the song to Cave’s earlier one.

Swedish rock group Ghost (perhaps that should be “satanic rock group”, since much of their music appears to be demonic and evil in its themes, lyrics and performance style) covered the song as well, in a harsh, abrasive version that I don’t enjoy.  It appeared as a bonus track on the extended CD of their 2018 album “Prequelle”.  I won’t embed or link to it here, because my beliefs are diametrically opposed to theirs, which I find utterly loathsome and obnoxious;  but if you want to listen to it, you’ll find it on YouTube.

Finally, Aimee Mann performed “Avalanche” as the theme song for the 2020 HBO true crime TV series “I’ll be Gone in the Dark“.  I think she comes closest to Leonard Cohen’s personal vision for the song, and I daresay he’d have approved of her version.  I like it very much.

What do you think of “Avalanche”?  Does the song engage you and draw you in, or is its dark imagery mysterious, even incomprehensible?  I enjoy songs that make me think, reflect, consider them in the context of my own life and beliefs.  “Avalanche” certainly does that for me.



  1. Peter, you have the widest,most eclectic taste in music I have ever see. The Aimee Mann version draws one in
    Off Topic–any plans to continue the Maxwell saga? I'm re-reading them for the third time, as I'm laid up with failing kidneys and reading a lot. These are superb books! The story cries out for more books!

  2. @John Cunningham: Maxwell Vol. 6 is well on the way to completion. Publication expected late this year or early next year.

    Please be careful with your kidneys. I want you around and reading my books for many years to come!

    1. Many thanks for your kind words. I am working with a top kidney doc and she is optimistic, so I hope to catch up on my reading.

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